By Rich Bailin, ProWrestling.net Contributor (@RichBailin)
AEW Dark: Elevation (Episode 2)
Taped in Jacksonville, Florida at Daily’s Place
Streamed March 22, 2021 on the AEW YouTube Page
Tony Schiavone and Paul Wight were on commentary…
1. Tay Conti (w/-1) vs. Ray Lyn. Tony and Paul discussed how Ray treated this match differently than last week when she faced Abadon. Tay missed a pump kick and Ray resonded with a dropkick and got a one count. They went head to head and Ray threw a kick, which Tay blocked. Ray hit a spinning back kick, which Tay answered with one of her own. Ray grabbed hair going into a spinning takedown. Both women were down and got up to their knees with back and forth punches. Tay won with a Hammerlock DDTay.
Tay Conti beat Ray Lyn in 3:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good back and forth match to start the Week 2 of Elevation. Tay goes on to Dynamite where she will face Nyla Rose. It would not surprise me one bit if Tay gets the win in that one given that she is 0-2 against Rose.
Tony and Paul ran down the shoe’s Triple Main Events, as Lee Johnson started to make his entrance to the ring.
2. Lee Johnson (w/Dustin Rhodes) vs. Adam Priest. Back and forth series to start the match. Johnson offered a handshake, which Priest took then pushed Johnson in the face with the other hand. Priest took control and hit a version of swinging neckbreaker (Paul called it a combo of a leg sweep and a neckbreaker) and a belly to back suplex. Johnson mounted a comeback with a couple of dropkicks and sent Priest out of the ring. Priest surprised Johnson with a quick two count, but then Johnson quickly recovered and hit a buckle bomb followed by his finisher the ‘Brain Dog’ for the win.
Lee Johnson beat Adam Priest in 5:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A competitive match, but it was no surprise that Johnson got the win. It was a good follow-up win though based on his Rising Star segment last week.
Dasha was backstage with Ryan Nemeth who spoke of how cool Orange Cassidy is with the hair, sunglasses, denim, and hands in the pockets, but then said he can’t pretend. As a trained, athletic, serious professional wrestler, nothing disgusts him more than someone like Orange. And while Orange may be cool, he is no Hunk.
3. Fuego Del Sol and Jack St. Patrick vs. “The Varsity Blonds” Brian Pillman Jr. and Griff Garrison. Garrison and Feugo started. After some offense from Garrison, both men tagged their partners. Wight mentioned that he has known Pillman since he was ten and was friends with his dad. Patrick was isolated while Pillman and Garrison made quick tags. Pillman used a single leg Boston crab that Patrick flipped out of and then tagged in Del Sol, who performed a flying head-scissors that sent Pillman into Garrison. Del Sol hit a Tornado DDT on Pillman. Garrison came right back with a discus punch for the win.
The Varsity Blonds beat Fuego Del Sol and Jake St. Patrick in 7:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A good showcase win for the Blonds. And Fuego was able to hit his Tornado again. With both The Acclaimed and Top Flight out with injuries, this seem to be a right time, right place situation for Garrison and Pillman, as they have now won six of their last nine matches and are overall 8-9 in the tag team division.
An AEW Casino mobile game commercial aired…
Bailin’s Breakdown: Update from last week: I deleted the app. If they put even half as much effort into the game as they did the commercial they would be on to something.
4.“Platinum” Max Caster vs. Ryzin. On his way to the ring Caster raps about Ryzin. After some back and forth Caster tweaks his knee and Ryzin takes control. It didn’t last long, as Caster hit a lariat on Ryzin. Caster worked on the arm. Ryzin missed a springboard moonsault as Caster brought his knees up. Caster went for a suplex and his knee gave out. He recovered and was able to hit a brainbuster suplex. He climbed up top and hit the top rope elbow for the win.
Max Caster beat Ryzin in 7:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: The match was clumsy at times, which hurt it overall. At the same time, that’s part of why Dark and Dark: Elevation exist, so that wrestlers like Caster can get more reps in. With Anthony Bowens sidelined and no singles feuds on the horizon for Caster, this is as good a spot for him to be in this early in his career, especially if he continues to win.
Rising Star segment Red Velvet: Her dad was a boxer and she grew up going to the gym with him. She realized early that she was not destined to be a boxer. She always felt like she wanted to fight though and became a professional dancer. She became a wrestling fan at age nine with her mom and fell in love with it. She thought she could combine the entertainment, fight, be beautiful, and dance. In 2015, she found a wrestling school. Cody Rhodes mentioned how Red is not even signed yet, but when Arn Anderson presented her to be Brandi’s replacement she didn’t glad hand or wait for hugs, she said what she needed to say and left. She rose to that occasion and Cody and Brandi Rhodes have all the confidence in the world in her and he hopes that she parlays into a full career in AEW. There was talk about seizing a moment during the pandemic and it was made clear that she is not a substitute, Red Velvet will matter here in AEW. Red said she has experience, grit, passion, and the blood of a fighter in her, so give her everything you got.
5. Leva Bates and Madi Wrenkowski vs. Big Swole and Red Velvet. Schiavone said Madi and Leva are 1-1 against each other but have never teamed before. Both teams received televised entrances. Madi and Leva did not get along. Red and Leva started things off. Leva with a quick tag to Madi, who choked Swole, which Leva tried to break up, but the ref pushed her out of the ring. Madi dragged Swole to her corner and tried for the tag, which Leva refused. Madi picked up Leva’s book and hit her with it. Leva walked out of the match leaving Madi alone. Red tagged in and took advantage and won with the Just Desserts.
Big Swole and Red Velvet beat Leva Bates and Madi Wrenkowski in 7:00.
After the match, Jade Cargill and Nyla Rose walked out with Vickie Guerrero and stared down Swole and Red.
Bailin’s Breakdown: I like these “Rising Star” spotlights. They aren’t earth shattering, just giving you some background on who they are spotlighting. It kind of reminds me of the early days of Dark with Cody’s “Undesirable to Undeniable” spotlights. I hope they continue with them. The match seemed to be a set up to a Leva vs. Madi rubber match, and an eventual tag with Swole and Red vs Nyla and Jade.
Dasha was backstage with Ethan Page, who was asked how he is preparing for his match against Dark Order’s 5. He didn’t need to prepare, the only numbers he cares about are his Win/Loss record. He said he would do two things – win and do Dark Order a favor by making sure Alan Angels disappears so they won’t have to worry about him anymore.
6. Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs (w/Hook) vs. “The West Coast Wrecking Crew” Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson. Hobbs showed off his power early. Starks tagged in. Isaacs hit a stunner on Starks, then Nelson performed a top rope cross body block. Hobbs broke up a pin attempt and hit a spinebuster on Isaacs. Hook tripped Isaacs, and Starks hits the Roshambo for the win.
Ricky Starks and Powerhouse Hobbs beat Royce Isaacs and Jorel Nelson in 5:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: A semi competitive match, more of a spotlight for Team Taz and a chance for Starks to work with Hobbs since the Starks and Brian Cage characters are having issues.
7. Baron Black vs. “The Radioactive Papi” Danny Limelight. Wight broke down Limelight’s military background as he made his way to the ring. Black was already in the ring. It was a back and forth match. After a Texas Cloverleaf like submission by Black, they wound up on the ring apron where Limelight pushed Black into the ring post. He followed up with a running kick to the face and a double stomp to Black’s back. Limelight sent Black into the ring and then got him in the ‘Morir Sonando’ choke which means to die dreaming in Spanish (thank Paul Wight for the Spanish lesson).
Danny Limelight beat Baron Black in 5:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: It was more competitive than I expected. I wouldn’t mind seeing both of these guys in a ‘Rising Star’ segment. Wight mentioned that he actually met Limelight at a ‘Tribute to the Troops’ show years ago. Limelight has had a very good first two weeks on Elevation.
8. Orange Cassidy vs. “The Hollywood Hunk” Ryan Nemeth. Both men received televised entrances as this is the first of three main events. Nemeth stopped Cassidy from putting his hand in his pockets with a waistlock takedown. Cassidy was able to put his hands in his pockets to escape. Cassidy confused Nemeth and then taunted him by lying down with his hands behind his head with legs crossed. Cassidy put his hands in his pockets. Nemeth countered the Orange Crush punch and took over. Nemeth worked over Orange’s arm. Nemeth hit a Diving DDT for a two count. Orange reversed a neckbreaker into the MouseTrap for the win. Nemeth, who was angered after the match, performed a neckbreaker anyways, which brought out Chuck Taylor. Then JD Drake came out and attacked Taylor. Drake and Nemeth left together.
Orange Cassidy beat Ryan Nemeth in 8:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: Good match. It was odd to see JD Drake come to Nemeth’s aid. Last we saw, Nemeth he was aligned with Peter Avalon. On commentary during the match, Schiavone said that Taylor and Cassidy’s match with Miro and Kip Sabian will have arcade games surrounding the ringside area. Is this foreshadowing Cassidy and Taylor’s next feud coming out of that? If so, that has to be considered a step back. Hopefully that isn’t the case, as Cassidy especially needs something to heat him back up. He has cooled significantly since beating Chris Jericho.
9. ‘All Ego’ Ethan Page vs. Dark Order’s Alan “5” Angels. Page came out first. Angels came out with the rest of the Dark Order, who all left before the match. Angels was in control early. Wight said the first time he saw Angels was against Kenny Omega on Dynamite. Schiavone said that was about a year ago. Wight said he has had his eyes on this for a while. Angels missed a splash into Page, who was hung up on the ropes after Page moved. A short time later, Angels hit a splash. Eventually Page took back control and was able to win with the Ego’s Edge.
Ethan Page beat Alan “5” Angels in 7:00.
After the match, Page called for a microphone and made Justin Roberts walk it to him, berated him over it. Page said he had a message for his future competition. He needs no money or praise but they all just got a lesson on the house for how to be the best professional wrestler. He said everyone watching at home should get used to his face and seeing him rack up win after win because he will be here for a very, very long time.
Bailin’s Breakdown: I know they said this match was part of a triple main event, but it almost seemed like Angels had too much offense on Page. Time will tell what plans they have for Page, but if he is going to be a player as his promo after the match alluded to, him being on the defensive for over half a match with 5 may not be the way to go. I don’t say that to be demeaning towards Angels, who is very talented, but he just hasn’t been positioned as a threat at all other than in that one competitive match with Kenny a year ago.
10. ”Legit” Leyla Hirsch vs. Ryo Mizunami. Leyla shrugged off a couple of chops from Ryo before the chops finally overcame her. Ryo did some weird miming and Leyla took control. Leyla threw a headbutt and then placed Ryo on the top rope before performing a top rope huracanrana followed by a knee strike and a release German suplex. Leyla attempted a cross arm breaker, which Ryo was able to block. Ryo came back with a leg drop, followed by a pin attempt, but Leyla kicked out at two. Ryo transitioned into the head and arm choke. Leyla escaped and attempted the arm breaker again, but Ryo powerbombed out of it and was winded. Leyla threw a clothesline for a two count. Leyla lifted Ryo up by the hair and slapped her. A short time later, Ryo is able to lock in the head and arm choke and then rolled a couple of times until Leyla tapped out.
Ryo Mizunami beat Leyla Hirsch in 9:00.
Bailin’s Breakdown: It was the second week and third show out of four to feature the women in the main event, and rightfully so. This was definitely the match of the night. If Ryo is sticking around for a while they can definitely go back to this one.
Overall this was a quicker show this week, clocking in at an hour and 25 minutes. That being said, I could have done without the triple main event concept for this show. That’s not to say this wasn’t a good show because overall it definitely was. But just because those were the matches that had two “names” in them does not make them feel main event worthy. I’d prefer to see them stick with one main event for now, build feuds inside each show, and let the storytelling make the main events. Thanks for reading. As always, feel free to reach out with any comments or questions. Until then see you next week